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What Medical Providers Can Prescribe Antidepressants?

Mental health treatment
Written by:

Rabia Khaliq

MSc in Applied Psychology

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Medical Disclaimer
The medications listed on this website are provided for informational purposes only. Their inclusion does not guarantee that they will be prescribed to any individual, as treatment decisions are ultimately at the discretion of healthcare providers. This list is not exhaustive, and healthcare providers may prescribe other medications, including non-stimulant options, based on the patient’s unique health circumstances and needs. Read more

What if you’ve finally decided to embark on a professional mental health treatment? If you’re considering this journey, you might wonder about the specialists involved. Understanding the difference between regular doctors and mental health professionals can be tricky. So, who do you turn to if you notice the symptoms of depression?

This article will help you figure out who can prescribe antidepressants, explain the differences between the types of healthcare providers, and discuss the requirements for obtaining prescriptions online.

Why Is Depression Dangerous?

The World Health Organization states that around 3.8% of the population [1*] grapples with depression, encompassing 5% of adults (with 4% of men and 6% of women affected) and 5.7% of adults aged 60 and above. Globally, an estimated 280 million people contend with this condition.

While some may believe it’s just a blue or a bad mood, untreated depression can cause substance abuse, strain relationships, disrupt work performance, and hamper recovery from other illnesses. Increased awareness about depression helps foster understanding, promote early intervention, and provide support for those affected. All this can mitigate its widespread impact on individuals and society.

Early diagnosis increases the chances of overcoming depression successfully. Book an online consultation today.

Symptoms of Depression

A depressive episode stands apart from general periodical sadness and apathy. It lasts for a minimum of two weeks and persists for the majority of each day, nearly every day. Alongside, other accompanying symptoms may be present, including:

  • Hopelessness: A negative outlook on life and thoughts of self-hate or guilt.
  • Appetite and weight changes: Altered eating habits leading to weight gain or loss.
  • Fatigue: Persistent tiredness, impacting daily life.
  • Loss of interest: Inability to find pleasure in once-enjoyed activities.
  • Poor sleep: Sleep disturbances, either too much or too little sleep.

What happens when a person decides to ignore the symptoms of depression? Untreated depression has been linked to significant challenges in managing physical health. For example, it may slow down the recovery from stroke or heart disease. Depression may also hinder decision-making and adherence to medical advice, which increases the risk of adverse outcomes. Other consequences include:

  • Disrupted eating and sleeping patterns
  • Impaired work performance and potential job loss
  • Strained relationships and social isolation
  • Increased risk of substance abuse
  • Elevated risk of suicide

Without adequate treatment, including antidepressants and/or psychotherapy, depression can endure for extended periods. Nevertheless, with the proper treatment, many of those who faced depression symptoms have found relief and improvement in their condition.

Reasons Why Antidepressants Are Prescribed

Typically, adults with moderate to severe depression are initially offered antidepressants as the primary treatment option. In general, the effectiveness of antidepressants [2*] is more noticeable in severe depression, but it might be minimal or absent for those with mild or moderate symptoms. If depression is evaluated as mild, antidepressants are not always the first choice.

The most commonly prescribed type of antidepressants is selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI). These include sertraline (Zoloft), fluoxetine (Prozac), citalopram (Celexa), and others. If symptoms do not improve after about four weeks, a healthcare provider may suggest an alternative antidepressant or adjust the dosage. Other types of antidepressants include serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRI), monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOI), and tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs).

Do You Need a Prescription for Antidepressants?

While many antidepressants are not controlled substances, they are prescription medications and require a doctor’s prescription to purchase them. To get a prescription, you need to be assessed by a doctor or mental health professional. These specialists will evaluate your symptoms and health history to make sure antidepressants are the best choice.

Depression treatment

Who Can Prescribe Antidepressants?

Various healthcare professionals can prescribe antidepressants, depending on the specific regulations and guidelines that may vary by state. Below, you’ll find a list of healthcare providers licensed to prescribe these medications.

Psychiatrists

Psychiatrists are doctors who specialize in diagnosing and treating mental illnesses. They evaluate the symptoms, make a diagnosis based on the given information, and may prescribe antidepressant medications if it is a necessary element of your treatment plan.

Primary Care Physicians

Primary care physicians, also known as general practitioners (GPs), are the first you should think about if you don’t know what professional to see or cannot find a psychiatrist. They are trained to diagnose and treat diverse illnesses and constantly collaborate with other specialists to provide the best possible assistance. They are also familiar with depression symptoms and are eligible to prescribe antidepressants.

Nurse Practitioners

Nurse practitioners, especially psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners (PMHNPs) [3*] , are an integral part of mental health treatment teams. These are trained mental health professionals who follow high-quality licensing and certification standards. They create therapeutic relationships with people having mental illness and/or substance use disorders (and often with their families). The responsibilities of the PMHNP include prescribing medication for acute and chronic illness.

Physician Assistants

Physician assistants (PAs) are licensed professionals who work under physicians’ supervision. Their duties vary based on their work setting, experience level, specialty, and state regulations. As a rule, they take health histories, diagnose and treat illnesses, and conduct procedures. PAs may also be able to make medication prescriptions, in particular for antidepressants.

At MEDvidi, you’ll find certified healthcare professionals who are licensed to prescribe medications in case your treatment requires it.

What Kind of Doctor Can Only Provide Talk Therapy?

Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, is effective for managing mental health conditions, including depression. It can be used along with medications, creating an integral treatment approach. Mental health professionals specializing in therapy are called psychologists. They can make psychological assessments and teach people how to better cope with life challenges and mental health issues.

To reap the full benefits of psychotherapy, you need to feel comfortable talking about your thoughts and feelings. Also, find a licensed therapist who offers confidentiality and compassion. The following types of mental health professionals are licensed to provide psychotherapy:

  • Clinical psychologists, educational psychologists, and health psychologists
  • Psychiatrists and mental health nurses trained in psychotherapy
  • Social workers, professional and mental health counselors
  • Psychotherapists, family physicians, and couples counselors

Please pay attention that in most U.S. states, a psychologist cannot prescribe antidepressant medication. Still, they are eligible to diagnose mental health conditions. A clinical psychologist may be authorized to prescribe medications in certain U.S. states, though this is rare.

Who can provide a prescription for antidepressants

How to Talk to a Doctor About Depression?

The sad truth is many people are embarrassed not only to seek help for their depression but even to speak about it. At the same time, depression is a prevalent condition, and qualified mental health professionals are aware of how it can negatively affect your life and are ready to assist you on your healing path. So, what is the most effective way to discuss your depression with a dedicated specialist?

  • Outline your symptoms. Don’t be shy about telling everything you think may contribute to your further treatment.
  • Avoid minimizing feelings. Describe the experience you are going through in as much detail as possible.
  • Tell a practitioner about the medications you are taking. It may help prevent negative consequences, such as interactions, when you start your treatment according to a new plan.

Although it may be difficult at first to speak up about your mental health symptoms, it is the very first step to your healthier and happier future.

Getting Antidepressants Without a Diagnosis

You are not able to get a prescription for antidepressants without a diagnosis from a medical professional. The reason for that is apparent: antidepressants are prescription medications and can cause severe side effects. That’s why they should be used appropriately and under medical supervision.

Primary care providers, psychiatrists, or other licensed healthcare professionals should assess your symptoms, medical history, and potential risk factors before prescribing medication. They may also consider other treatment options and outline all the potential benefits and risks of the chosen strategy.

Can You Get a Prescription Through Telemedicine?

As mentioned above, to obtain a prescription for antidepressants, you should take a comprehensive examination by a healthcare professional. Online mental health services refer to virtual consultations with licensed healthcare providers who, after such an assessment, may prescribe antidepressants as a part of your treatment plan.

Our team offers a telemedicine service that helps you connect with certified specialists. They are authorized to provide online treatment for depression and prescribe necessary medications, and you may get help even without leaving your home.

How to Get a Prescription Online?

Here’s an outline of the steps to get your prescription online.

  1. At MEDvidi, your journey begins by signing up for the platform, providing all the required basic personal information, and filling out a medical intake form.
  2. As soon as you complete the registration process, you can easily book your first appointment.
  3. During your video consultation, your healthcare provider will review your symptoms and medical history. They can also ask relevant questions to get a complete understanding of your mental health condition.
  4. Based on this data, a practitioner will make a diagnosis, recommend a course of treatment, and provide you with an online prescription if you are eligible.
  5. After you start your treatment according to your personalized plan, you should attend follow-up sessions to refill your prescription and tell a healthcare professional about your dynamics. They will assess the effectiveness of the treatment offered and, if necessary, adjust the dosage of prescribed medications.

In Conclusion

The American Psychiatric Association has positive statistics on depression treatment. Between 80% and 90% of people with depression [4*] ultimately experience symptom relief. The collaborative efforts of primary care physicians, psychiatrists, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and psychologists are pivotal here. They may prescribe antidepressant medications based on the individual’s symptoms and health history or recommend psychotherapy sessions.

The stigma around mental health prevents discussing symptoms openly, but initiating a conversation with a healthcare professional is the essential first step. You can consult certified specialists from the comfort of your home, including services like symptom assessment, getting a diagnosis, and receiving prescriptions for medications like antidepressants.

FAQ

A primary care doctor, also known as a general practitioner (GP), can prescribe antidepressant medications. Other medical providers licensed to prescribe these medications include psychiatrists, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants.

First, you need to see your primary care physician or a mental health professional. Discuss your symptoms, their impact, and your willingness to take medication during the appointment. Your clinician will then decide if antidepressants are needed and which one can be best for you.

You can’t directly request antidepressants, but you can express your readiness for pharmacological treatment for depression when talking to your mental health specialist.

Doctors should prescribe antidepressant medications when they decide it is an appropriate and beneficial treatment for a patient’s mental health condition.

Sources

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4 sources
  1. Depressive disorder (depression). (2023)
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  2. Antidepressant Drug effects and Depression Severity: A Patient-Level Meta-Analysis. (2010)
    Source link
  3. The role of psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners in improving mental and behavioral health care delivery for children and adolescents in multiple settings. (2020)
    Source link
  4. What Is Depression?
    Source link
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Written by:

Rabia Khaliq

MSc in Applied Psychology
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This article is based on scientific evidence, written by experts and fact checked by experts.

Our team of experts strive to be objective, unbiased, honest and to present both sides of the argument.

This article contains scientific references. The numbers
in the parentheses (1, 2, 3) are clickable links to peer-reviewed scientific papers.